Luxury watches received the most complaints among all the luxury items in China last year, according to a survey released on Thursday, International Day for Consumers' Rights and Interests.
The World Luxury Association, releasing a report on the consumer satisfaction of luxury goods, collected 3,756 complaints on luxury goods in China between March 15, 2011 and March 15 this year.
The survey showed that 46 percent of the complaints are about watches, followed by bags and clothes, luxury cars and jewelry.
"As a kind of mechanical item, after-sales service is more important for watches than other luxury items, because the mechanical items are more likely to have faults," said Yang Qingshan, guest researcher on luxury goods and services at the University of International Business and Economics in Beijing.
In China, the sellers of luxury watches do not take the responsibility to fix them, Yang said, which is one of the reasons for complaints about luxury watches.
The survey showed that most luxury consumers are not satisfied with the after-sales service for luxury goods and only 16 percent of consumers said their complaints were resolved.
"Although the market is large, China's consumers do not receive enough attention from international luxury brands," said Ouyang Kun, director of the World Luxury Association's China Office.
He said the complicated and long process of after-sales service increases consumers' difficulties in receiving the services.
The association has appealed to the international luxury brands to set up a unified after-sales service system. That would include hotlines, a fixed process of after-sales service, labels of origin and local repair centers.
"It's time for international luxury companies to pay attention to after-sales service," Yang said.
However, some luxury brands have already started to work on building such systems.
"Gucci's 400 line for customer service on the mainland was launched in February," said Ben Huang, director of marketing and communications of Gucci China Trading Limited.
The luxury association's report also shows that 57 percent of the complaints involved quality.
Yang said top luxury watches usually have good quality and the watches getting complaints are mainly entry-level luxury products.
"The fast expansion of luxury brands in China is one of the reasons for the low quality of luxury items," said Zhou Ting, executive director of the luxury research center of the University of International Business and Economics in Beijing.
China surpassed the US to be the world's second largest luxury market in 2009 after Japan.
The expenditure by Chinese consumers on high-end clothes, handbags, watches and other luxury items was expected to exceed 100 billion yuan ($15.8 billion) by the end of 2011, about a quarter of global sales, according to initial calculations by consulting firm Bain and Company.
By Wang Wen
(Source: China Daily)